Can volunteer crowdsourcing reduce disaster risk? A systematic review of the literature

Nayomi Kankanamge, Tan Yigitcanlar, Ashantha Goonetilleke, Md Kamruzzaman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Disasters are natural catastrophic events that cause damage to property and loss of lives. Highly-reliable in-situ location information is critical for rescue efforts during and after disasters, but often such information is not easy or even possible to obtain. The recent technological advancements along with the volunteerism opportunities create the possibility for obtaining the most needed information through citizens via online applications. The paper investigates the role of volunteer crowdsourcing, including its key attributes and relevant technologies, in disaster risk reduction. This study adopts the systematic literature review technique as the methodological approach. The results reveal three major application areas, where the data collection is undertaken through volunteer crowdsourcing—i.e., marketing, communication, disasters. The findings point out to a trend of increasing focus on volunteer crowdsourcing in the disaster risk reduction literature between 2006 and 2018. The study suggests that the adoption of volunteer crowdsourcing systems into practice would assist policymakers and disaster risk managers to make informed decisions before, during and after disasters—hence, could help in reducing risks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101097
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Citizen science
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Neogeography
  • Social media
  • Volunteered geographic information

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